Movie review: War Machine

Movie reviews

Hi!

As the counterprogramming to Pirates 5 and Baywatch (review coming in a few weeks cause international release schedules), Netflix released its newest original picture – War Machine. Since I’m not seeing Wonder Woman till Monday, I decided to make War Machine my movie of the weekend. I have already reviewed a Netflix film before and given you my general thoughts on Netflix’s attempt to break into the movie business. Weirdly, that picture was also a war drama – Sand Castle. I didn’t enjoy it much but I’m still hopeful about War Machine.

IMDb summary: A successful, charismatic four-star general, Glenn McMahon, leaps in like a rock star to command NATO forces in Afghanistan, only to be taken down by a journalist’s no-holds-barred exposé

Writing 

War Machine was written by the director of the film David Michôd, based on the non-fiction book The Operators by Michael Hastings. I quite enjoyed a variety of aspects of the writing for this film. To begin with, I loved the acknowledgment of the internationality of the war and the importance of the involvement of the other NATO nation’s as well as of the Afghans themselves.

I also was intrigued by the satirical air of the movie. It was so refhreshing to see a serious issue, like war, being examined with a level of irony, especially nowadays, when everybody gets offended by everything. More importantly, the satirical approach was so suitable for the topic of war because of the inherent hopelessness and even stupidity within it. The lack of final resolution to the narrative was also very appropriate as there isn’t actually a final solution to the war(s) in the Middle East.

In addition to the movie being bold in its choice of tone, it was also very daring in its message. That message sounded simple and yet it is so hard for a lot of Western nations to comprehend: ‘you cannot build a nation at gunpoint’ and ‘don’t invade a country you want to make friends with’.

War Machine was also unique in that it did not focus on the physical fighting of the war but rather looked at the paperwork, the planning, and the advertising side of it. I also loved how the team behind the general was spotlighted – I never did think how much is happening behind the scenes or behind the leader. Moreover, the divide between the military and the polity and all the miscommunication that was occuring was fascinating to see.

The writing for the main character (who is based on a real person) was also really good. I loved how idealistic he was – a sort of guy who makes you believe that there is good in the world. And yet, there were still layers to his idealism and I liked the fact that the movie questioned his motives. Were they trully as altruistic as they seemed? The conclusion to the narrative was also complex. I felt that, even though the article, written by the Rolling Stones journalist (who acted as the movie’s version of the real life author, who wrote the book the script was based on), destroyed the General’s career, this film was quite respectuful of it and him. Ultimately, he was painted in a good light, so to say.

Lastly, to end this long passage on the writing, let’s critique one aspect of the screenplay which was lacking – the structure of the narrative and the way it was presented. Of course, I am talking about narration. I do understand that the narration in this film could be sort of justified by saying that it’s the author/the journalist who is telling a story (and that actor did narrate the whole thing). However, the narration is such a cheap story device. Yes, it makes the plot very clear and is easy to understand. But it also makes it boring. I really wish the story could have been conveyed more organically and cinematically rather than just being spelled out for the viewers verbally.

Directing

David Michôd, a director of shorts and documentaries, helmed War Machine and did a good job. The movie was well-paced and the comedic/satirical atmosphere – well handled. The film did not have a lot of sequences of fighting and they weren’t missed – the dialogue and the character interactions were engaging enough. Having said that, the third act’s action sequence was well-crafted and suspenseful. Another sequence which I really liked was the conference in Germany and the stand-off between the German politician and the General. I also loved the ending shot of the film and how it represented the idea of hopelessness and the closed-loop of war. Same place, same job, different people. Doesn’t really matter who, though.

Acting

Brad Pitt (The Big Short, Allied, By The Sea) delivered career-defining performance as General Glen McMahon. The best I have seen from him in years. The performance was so complex, involving all the parts of the body and the face (especially, the eyebrows and the eyes). Also, he did some amazing voice modification for the role – the play with the accent and intonations was spectacular. I also loved how he delivered a comedic performance without being disrespectful. He should definitely get at least a Golden Globe nomination. Pitt also served as a producer – he does that a lot nowadays. He also produces films he does not star in.

The aforementioned team behind the General consisted of a bunch of actors of varying caliber, including Anthony Hayes, Emory Cohen, RJ Cyler, Daniel Betts, and Topher Grace. They all were good and their chemistry and comradeship seemed believable.

The journalist, who was inspired by the real-life writer, who wrote the book the script was based on, was played by Scoot McNairy. He also narrated the whole movie. Will Poulter and Keith Stanfield played two soldiers ‘on the ground’ who actually did the fighting. Stanfield’s character’s confusion about the war was an interesting aspect. I wish it were explored more.

Tilda Swinton also appeared in a single scene as a German politician. While I can’t comment on her German accent, I thought that she was absolutely amazing in the 5 min she was on screen.  Ben Kingsley also had a small role in the film – a quite typical one for him – that of a leader/person from an Eastern country.

In short, War Machine worked well as a biographical drama and as a war film. More importantly, the commentary provided was not only thought-provoking but presented in an entertaining way.

Rate: 3.7/5

Trailer: War Machine trailer

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Eurovision 2016!

Music

Hello, my dear readers!

Once a year, the whole of Europe and Australia (and even the US for the first time) turns on their TVs and witnesses one of the most bizarre international events – the Eurovision Song Contest! Eurovision is supposedly a musical contest and yet it has always been extremely political and biased. This year was no exception! Actually, 2016’s show might be the most political Eurovision ever.

To begin with, let’s focus on the bright side and talk about the positive aspects of the event. The 61st edition of the contest was held in Stockholm, Sweden thanks to Måns Zelmerlöw, who won in 2015 with the song Heroes. This wasn’t the first time that Sweden won the contest (it was actually the 6th – previous wins in  1974 (ABBA), 1984, 1991, 1999 and 2012 (Loreen)), so the Scandinavian country was/is an experienced host nation and I think that they did a fabulous job. The event was hosted by Zelmerlöw and the fan-favorite Petra Mede and they actually were pretty funny and worked well together. Of course, there were plenty of awkward and uncomfortable moments, but that’s just part of the Eurovision’s charm.

A few stand-out moments from the hosts and the guests of the show were: the dance/acting performance The Grey People in support of the refugees during the 1st Semi-Final, the dance performance Man v Machine during the 2nd Semi-Final, the satirical, tongue-in-cheek performance by Petra and Mans and the appearance of/interval act by Justin Timberlake during the grand final.

The actual songs were pretty good as well. This was probably the most even playing field I have ever seen in all my 12 years of watching the Eurovision. There was no clear winner before the show or even during the voting.

My favorite songs came from the following countries: Belgium, Hungary, Italy, Israel, Bulgaria, United Kingdom, Sweden, Germany, Australia, Latvia, Austria, and Russia (I feel ashamed to mention that last one). Ukraine was not one of my favorites – the song was not of my style or taste – but I appreciated it and was happy that they won.

I also did not hate my native country’s – Lithuania’s – song. We did pretty well this year, finishing in 9th place. That’s the 2nd best result for my country. This was the first year that I actually was able to vote for my native land as I no longer live there.

Now,  about the politics and the voting. This year, the jury’s and public’s votes were announced separately and this decision made for an even more intense watching experience. Stand out moments from the announcement of the votes:

  1. Australia took and early lead and won the jury’s votes. Everyone was expecting it to win and then Ukraine shockingly dethroned it.
  2. The juries were more biased than their respective nations. The professionals voted for their neighboring countries much more than the public did. I would have expected the public to be more biased, while the juries should have been way more objective.
  3. Ukraine and Russia were the last two countries to receive the public’s votes. Russia was the fan-favorite and could have won but it did not receive enough points. So, Ukraine had the best payback ever for the current political situation in Crimea. It gave Russia some hope and then crushed it completely. When you find out that a)Ukraine’s singer is of Crimean Tatar descent; b)her song was about the deportation of the Crimean Tatars during the 1940s by the Soviet Union and c) the song features Crimean Tatar’s language and cultural vocal styles, this revenge win is even more iconic. Layers upon layers of politics. 
  4. Germany’s jury gave 12 points to Israel. I guess the blame for WW2 is still on Germany’s jury’s minds.
  5. Poland received 7 points from the jury and 200+ points from the viewers. This was probably the biggest divide that the professionals and the public had ever had. I have a theory on why the viewers liked Poland’s performer – he looks like Weird Al Yankovic – internet-famous American parodist and singer.

All in all, I had a lovely time watching this year’s Eurovision. The show had enough pleasant surprises and a few listenable songs. Have you watched the show? Who were your favorites?

My posts on/about 2015‘s Eurovision here and 2014‘s Eurovision here.

eurovision-2016

 

Happy Easter 2016!!

Sightseeing

Good morning my dear readers and Happy Easter!

I just wanted to quickly wish you a happy day even if you don’t celebrate Easter! I hope that either your Easter Sunday or just normal Sunday will be full of joy and happiness whatever you do!

Easter is quite a big family celebration in my native country. This year I’m not going home to celebrate it, so I’m stuck alone in my room on campus. But I can’t say that I mind that very much..:)

In Lithuania, we have a tradition to color eggs for Easter and we call them ‘marguciai’ (translated as colorful Easter Eggs). So, even though I now live in a different country/time zone/continent(almost), I decided to continue this tradition.

First of all, let me present you the Easter Egg with ‘Easter Eggs‘ (aka references) on top of it. I hand-painted (my skills are rubbish, but I think it turned out nice) various symbols of nerdiness. From the top left corner we have my blog symbol, Wonder Woman’s symbol, Black Widow’s symbol, The Avengers A, Batman v Superman logo, Daredevil’s double D logo, Deadpool’s symbol, Captain America’s shield, the nerdfighteria’s acronym DFTBA, and the Star Trek logo. I really wanted to include references to Harry Potter, Lord of The Rings, Star Wars and Game of Thrones, but I either ran out of space or just couldn’t come up with a simple enough symbol or logo.


Next, I did a United Nation/Countries/Flags Easter Egg. This one was partly inspired by a globe-like Easter Egg that I made last year.


The countries that I managed to include were: Lithuania (my native country), Scotland (my current home), United Kingdom, United States of America, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Spain, The Netherlands, Greece, Brazil, South Korea, South Africa, Japan, India, and Denmark. That’s basically all the countries that I would like to visit (and whose flags are quite easy to draw/paint).

I also coloured two other eggs. I just put some zigzag lines and dots on one of them and rolled the other one in nail polish. They turned out okay.


Once again, have a Happy Easter if you celebrate it, while I am going back to bed to eat chocolate eggs and other sweets!

Easter 2014 post – here.

Collection: Mood/Inspiration Board

Uncategorized

Hello!

Welcome to part 2 of my wall decorations. Last time I told you all about my posters and other little bits and pieces that are hanging on my walls (Part 1). This time, I will show you my mood/inspiration board.

First of all, it is actually not a board, just two A4 format pieces of papers glued on the wall with a bunch of sticky notes stacked on them.

Words that are on these sticky notes are mostly inspiring quotes of famous people like: Audrey Hepburn, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., Anne Frank, John Lennon and authors like David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas book), Michael Grant (Gone series), and John Green (TFIOS). There are also some lyrics from my favorite Lana Del Rey songs (Born to die, Blue jeans) as well as Rihanna’s Shine Bright like a Diamond. In addition, there are also some random words that mean something to me: Bravery, Vulnerability, Solidarity, Equality and so forth and a little tag that says 1960s which is my favorite era.

My obsessions also have their place above my desk: there is a Mockingjay sign and May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor signature quote from The Hunger Games because I am the huge fan of the franchise. There is also a shadowhunter rune from The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, Okay? Okay clouds from TFIOS, double infinity sign, a sparkly silver star, LONG LIVE THE KING saying that reminds me of Game of Thrones and Reign TV series and other random things like: GEEK, NERD pins that represent me, names of the countries I have visited and other inspirational sayings.

I hope you liked seeing my mood/inspiration board. Every time I glance at it, my spirits are automatically lifted and all the bad stuff, negative emotions and sad feelings fade away. I wish that this blog post brighten your day as well. Bye!

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Sightseeing: Berlin, Germany

Sightseeing

Hi!

Last month I visited Berlin for a 6th or 7th time. For my blog readers this means only one thing – another sightseeing blog post.So let’s begin, shall we?

Firstly we visited Berlin city center and walked around for a bit. Then we went to one of the most famous buildings in Berlin – Reich-stag building. It is a government building that has been rebuilt a couple of times. The view from the top of it is breathtaking.

After spending time in the city center we took a metro to the Berlin zoo. It is also located in the city center and it is quite weird to walk around animals and at the same time see skyscrapers hovering above you.

As a brochure of the zoo says it has the biggest diversity of animals in Europe. It was opened in 1844 and now it is the oldest zoological garden in Germany.  The zoo also has an aquarium complex joined with it. In addition, it is Europe’s largest landscape zoo. It took like 4 hours to walk through it.

The tickets’ prices are not too bad in my opinion. Adult tickets with the permission to enter the aquarium cost 20 Euros, without aqua – 13 Euros. It’s 15 and 10 Euros for students respectively. You can find all the prices here: http://www.zoo-berlin.de/

I really enjoyed walking around this garden; I loved seeing all the animals, especially the elephants. They were drinking water with their trunks and looked just too cute doing it. Bellow you will find as much photos as I could fit into one blog post. Bye!

P.S. A note on the metro system of Berlin. I was pleasantly surprised how clear everything is. I have been on metros in France and in other cities of Germany and there I was always half-lost. But in everything Berlin is clear, there are so many sings to guide you and people are also really helpful. The metro stations are also super clean as you would expect from Germans.

Shopping: Berlin haul

Beauty&Fashion

Hello!!

Welcome to the new segment of my blog dedicated to shopping. Here I will show you what I’ve bought recently, maybe will give you some inspiration but most importantly I will direct you to the best sales.

One quick side note: I do not want to show off by any means, just help you to make your shopping experience that much better.So, let’s continue.

This past week I visited Germany and capital of Germany – Berlin. It was not my first time in this country or even in this city whatsoever. However, this time I came across the best sales and had the greatest shopping experience because I finally found some stuff I have been looking for for a past year or so.

Department stores: A10 http://www.a10center.de/ Gropius Passagen http://www.gropius-passagen.de/

Supermarkets: real http://www.real.de/ and Kaufland https://www.kaufland.pl

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Milka milk chocolate with chocolate chip cookie filling 0.69 euro
Milka milk chocolate with TUC TUC cookies 0.69 euro
Jacobs coffee 3.33 euro
I love NY cup 1 euro
Germany flag bracelet 0.99 euro

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Reese’s peanut butter cups (I wanted to try them for so long) 3 x 1.29 euro
Jar of crunchy peanut butter – 2.99 euro

NANU NANA http://www.nanu-nana.de/

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Postcards 2 x 1.10 euro

H&M http://www.hm.com/us/

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Sleeveless button-up shirt with pink Eiffel towers 7 euros

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Necklace with coins “HONEST” and “TRUST” 1 euro
3 sets of rings 3 x 1 euro
Hair accessory 1 euro

+ uma cosmetics duo nail polish from real for 2.95 euros

Karstadt sport http://www.karstadt.de/

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Because I am a professional swimmer, swimming caps are always high on my shopping list. These two cost me 10 euros each. Brand – Arena.

I hope you liked this short haul. I definitely recommend you to go into H&M, because they have awesome sales on accessories. Have a great rest of the week .